Edmonton Oilers Buying Out Benoit Pouliot

The Edmonton Oilers announced Thursday that they would be placing veteran forward Benoit Pouliot on unconditional waivers with the intent to buy out the two remaining years of his contract. By buying out Pouliot’s contract that was set to expire following the 2018-19 season and came with a cap hit of $4 million annually, the Oilers will be tasked with paying Pouliot $1.33 million for the next for seasons. The Oilers will be saving $2.66 million in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

The 30-year-old winger was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild and has spent parts of 12 seasons split between the Wild, the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Rangers and most recently the Edmonton Oilers. Despite being such a highly-touted prospect coming out of the OHL, Pouliot has failed to live up to expectation, scoring just 117 goals and 244 points in 551 games.

Benoit Pouliot
Sep 21, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot (67) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton Oilers won 3-1. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Oilers signing Pouliot for a five-year, $20 million contract in 2014 was a curious decision given the fact that Pouliot had scored no more than 16 goals or 36 points in any season to that point in his career. Still, Pouliot has able to contribute some offensive output throughout his career, scoring at least 13 goals in six out of seven seasons from 2009-10 to 2015-16. Unfortunately, his production has never lived up to his top-five billing or his $4 million cap hit, but Pouliot did bring veteran experience to an Oilers team that has seemingly finally found its way after a decade of missing the playoffs and multiple first-overall draft picks.

Oilers Clearing Cap Space

This offseason has been a crucial one for the Oilers. Clearing cap space is the top priority for the team given the contracts they will need give to Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Fortunately for the Oilers, McDavid’s deal will only kick in following the 2017-18 season, though it is expected to be a significant pay-raise for their 20-year-old captain. A reported deal of eight years with a cap hit of $13.25 million per season is in the works. On top of that, the Oilers have to consider the Draisaitl’s contract which will undoubtedly be large and kicks in during the 2017-18 season, the $6 million cap hit of Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as well as contracts ranging from $4 million to $5.5 million being paid to Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell and Cam Talbot.

Connor McDavid, Upper Deck, CIBC, Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid is one of the 20 faces for Upper Deck’s new coin collection. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Planning to deal with that cap situation, the Oilers already a move to trade away Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders while acquiring Ryan Strome in exchange – a deal that saved the Oilers $3.5 million next season. Unfortunately for Pouliot, he’s just another salary cap casualty as the Oilers look at the big picture that lies ahead for them in the future. With the biggest contract in the history of the NHL about to be handed out to McDavid and a monster deal likely coming for Draisaitl, these moves are simply necessary for one of the NHL’s brightest up-and-coming teams.